Rum is a distilled alcoholic drink made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by fermentation and distillation. The clear distilate liquid is then usually aged in oak and other casks. Though rum is produced in a variety of places around the world, including Australia and India, the main hub of production is around the Caribbean as well as along the Demerara river in South.
The precursors to rum date back to antiquity. Its development is traced back to ancient India or China. Brum is an example of one such early drink. Produced by the Malay people, brum dates back thousands of years. Marco Polo also recorded a 14th-century account of a "very good wine of sugar" that was offered to him in what is modern-day Iran.
The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean in the 17th century. The ability of the molasses', a by-product of sugar refining, to be fermented into alcohol was discovered by plantation slaves. Later, the impurities of the fermented molasses was removed by distillation concentrating the alcohol and removing impurities, producing the first true rums.
Production location determines the grades and variations rum. The following is a short list of commonly names used to describe the different grades of rum:
- Light Rums, also referred to as light, silver, and white rums. In general, light rum has very little flavor aside from a general sweetness, and serves accordingly as a base for cocktails. Light rums are sometimes filtered after aging to remove any color.
- Gold Rums, also called amber rums, are medium-bodied rums which are generally aged. The rum can obtain its flavor through addition of spices and caramel/color (a variation often sold as Spiced Rum), but historically gains its darker color from aging in wooden casks (typically oak).
- Dark Rum, classes as a grade darker than gold rum. It is generally aged longer, in heavily charred barrels. Dark rum has a much stronger flavor than either light or gold rum, and hints of spices can be detected, along with a strong molasses or caramel overtone. It is used to provide substance in rum drinks, as well as color. In addition to uses in mixed drinks, dark rum is the type of rum most commonly used in cooking.
- Flavored Rum, some manufacturers have begun to sell rums which they have infused with flavors of fruits such as mango, orange, citrus, and coconut. These serve to flavor similarly themed tropical drinks which generally comprise less than 40% alcohol.
- Overproof Rum, is rum which is much higher than the standard 40% alcohol. Most of these rums bear greater than 75%, in fact, and preparations of 151 to 160 proof occur commonly.
- Premium Rum, as with other alcohols, such as Cognac and Scotch, a market exists for premium and super-premium spirits. These are generally boutique brands which sell very aged and carefully produced rums. They have more character and flavor than their "mixing" counterparts, and are generally consumed without the addition of other ingredients.
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